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The Prestige

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  12,770 Ratings  ·  1,389 Reviews
In 1878, two young stage magicians clash in the dark during the course of a fraudulent séance. From this moment on, their lives become webs of deceit and revelation as they vie to outwit and expose one another.

Their rivalry will take them to the peaks of their careers, but with terrible consequences. In the course of pursuing each other's ruin, they will deploy all the dec
Paperback, 360 pages
Published September 15th 1997 by Tom Doherty Associates Tor Books (first published 1995)
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Brenda Clough Think of the work as one of those candy Easter Eggs. The movie has several layers. The book has one more, a crunchy chocolate coating around the…moreThink of the work as one of those candy Easter Eggs. The movie has several layers. The book has one more, a crunchy chocolate coating around the entire outside of what you see in the movie. It is delicious.(less)
Amanda Lee This book is not a page turner. It simply isn't. The author does a good job of making you want to read the story, but it's a story meant to be read…moreThis book is not a page turner. It simply isn't. The author does a good job of making you want to read the story, but it's a story meant to be read slowly.(less)

Community Reviews

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Aug 05, 2012 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy suspense, intrigue and delving deeper into books

"An illusion has three stages.

"First there is the setup, in which the nature of what might be attempted at is hinted at, or suggested, or explained. The apparatus is seen. volunteers from the audience sometimes participate in preparation. As the trick is being setup, the magician will make use of every possible use of misdirection.

"The performance is where the magician's lifetime of practice, and his innate skill as a performer, cojoin to produce the magical display.

"The third stage is sometimes
Dec 30, 2013 Tfitoby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, lit

The Prestige by Christopher Priest

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not even close to what I was expecting, thankfully.

Blurb: Turn of the 20th Century London, two stage magicians embark on a feud of a lifetime propelling both of them to fame and fortune, pain and despair and a couple of shocking discoveries along the way, also framed by the meeting of their great grandchildren still living with the aftermath of the feud.

Thoughts: At its core Christopher Priest's The Prestige (completely different entity
Like many readers, I came to this book after seeing the excellent 2006 film based on it. Like many other readers, I ended up preferring the film to the book as the film is a lot more tightly woven and provides better motivations for the characters' actions.

The story, for those of you who don't know, centres on two Victorian magicians who strike up a feud and spend the next twenty years sabotaging each other's shows and trying to outperform each other, each coming up with a spectacular disappeari
Marija Simić
Saw the movie not so recently, but I have to agree with almost everyone, when I say I prefer actually movie. This rarely happens! Of course, book has such a interesting story, and I liked it. And I like how Priest wrote about Nikola Tesla (who is (Tesla) my favourite historical figure, ever). At times confusing, both movie and the book. But, essentially- what is important is to see how every story has like, three sides, and how revenge blinds us. Makes us so so stupid. So, this book I will rate ...more
Scribble Orca
I saw the movie on the plane (where else) and was frantic to surf the 'net to find out more about it when we landed. I wanted to understand more about the book, its author, the concepts, and background. Big screen (well, in this case, the small screen on the back of a plane seat) is terrific but ephemeral, whereas with a book I have time for distractions, cogitation, re-reading (and checking things on the net!). You might argue that I can fiddle with 'Pause', 'Rewind', 'Forward' and (several ...more
Dec 05, 2011 Eh?Eh! rated it really liked it
I prefer the movie, but I'm not sure if that's because I saw it first or because it condensed the confusion down to a lean story of obsession and one-upmanship. My reading was heavily influenced by knowing the major spoilers. Should've read the book first.

Dammit, what is with the Monday morning over-the-shoulder snoopers? Gotta make this fast. Unreliable narrators, stupid feuds with real consequences that made them impossible to let go, destroying your own life through choices. Each man had a ch
Arielle Walker
Jul 07, 2016 Arielle Walker rated it really liked it
Having loved the film (but also been somewhat bewildered by it - never watch intricate films when you should be sleeping - they really won't make sense.) I was pretty excited to find that it was originally a book. This, I figured, would be my chance to actually understand the story!

Well, sort of.

The book is written in epistolary form, from the point of view of four main characters around 5 generations apart. Two characters write in diaries - these are the main characters, and the storyline that
A. Dawes
Aug 15, 2016 A. Dawes rated it it was amazing
Dueling illusionists' ongoing battle in the late Victorian era has consequences for future generations. This is a masterpiece of epistolary style writing. The reader is set up, mirroring the art of the illusionist. The Prestige explores issues relating to social class and gender, artistry vs science, one's perspective shaping the truth, and the dangers of limitless ambition. The illusionists' duel and their quest to be true masters provides for a couple of intriguing Faustian bargains in this ...more
3.5 Stars

This was... Hmm. This book was not anything I expected. Though, I'm not really sure just what I expected, to be honest. I alternated between thinking that this story was going to be dry and boring, or over the top "magicky", or all fluffadelic like what I expect The Night Circus would be like if I could bring myself to read it. I don't like circuses, or... well, parties or performances or celebrations or fairs or festivals or whatever authors write about to make their books "lively" or
Jan 09, 2015 Wastrel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to see a masterful writer at work and who doesn't mind a bit of weirdness
Not recommended for: anyone allergic to SF-elements or who demands a simple story told from beginning to end, or who can't cope with old-fashioned prose or a slow pace.

This book is quite simply a masterwork. From a slow beginning, it ratchets up the tension like an old-fashioned horror film, until it's truly thrilling. With relatively little in the way of overt psychological insight - particularly into Borden, one of the two main characters - it nonetheless constructs clear, sympathetic, underst
Oct 26, 2011 Harold rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Certain subjects, in this case stage magic, hold a lot of appeal for me and a good book about those subjects is going to be well received by me. I loved the movie also, but this book is quite different in a lot of ways. It’s a great example of how a good screen writer can adopt and change the author’s ideas and emphasis and still come up with a good movie. BTW – I recall reading somewhere around the time that the movie came out that the term prestige , in the sense that it is used here ...more
4.0 stars. Christopher Priest can flat out write a good story and this is no exception. After reading (and thoroughly enjoying one of his science fiction novels, The Inverted World: A Novel, I was anxious to check out one of his other stories and chose this one.

While the plot and tone are completely different than The Inverted World: A Novel, the strength of the story-telling and the excellent writing are certainly evident. The story is a sort of historical mystery (with very subtle fantasy/sci
Dec 17, 2009 Belinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spooky, intrigue, mystery
Really more of a 4.5, but the very, very end left me enough at a loss that I rounded down instead of up. This is one page-turner of a debut novel. I was reading it concurrently with Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, and needless to say, this one went much more quickly.

The main thing I want to say about this novel is that, if you've seen the movie based on it, you do NOT know the story of this novel. I did enjoy the film, but it stands on its own apart from the book, in many more ways than it
Dec 18, 2015 fromcouchtomoon rated it it was amazing
Gripping, eerie, hard to put down. Every time I thought I had a good sense of what was going on, Priest pulled the table out of from under his plot and I'm still not sure what actually happened. Demands a re-read.
Ashley Chua
Okay. Alright. Let me preface this by saying I've already watched the film a year back, and I read this with the intention of revisiting the story by reading it. That said, it was a mark of how good this book was that I was still able to be surprised by the ending. There were some differences in timeline and details between the book and the film, so I still enjoyed it as the mystery that it was supposed to be.

I was going to give this book 4 stars - great premise, but a rather 'tell' not 'show' s
Nancy Oakes
Feb 12, 2008 Nancy Oakes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I must say that this was a sterling novel that absolutely kept me reading until the very end. But before I launch into it, here's my recommendation. The book thoroughly requires the reader's participation. It's not a wham-bam thank you ma'am kind of story and definitely NOT for readers who quickly become impatient with what they're reading. It is one of those books where you're going to be thinking about what's going constantly as you read, so don't pick it up if you think you're just going to ...more
I didn't rank this yet? Did my rating... disappear?

Much weirder and more complicated than the movie. Also a little stupider (ghosts?) and yet a lot smarter (nested storytelling -- letters within journals within flashbacks -- to create a compelling, complex structure).

The slight of hand also tends to play better in print when you don't have to see it acted out (hey, my magic trick requires a double of Hugh Jackman, let's cast Hugh Jackman!).

I read this years back, before the film, and it's hard
Feb 05, 2009 Manny rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Oddly enough, not as good as the movie!
The Prestige by Christopher Priest was the work book club choice for June/July: thanks to Robert for selecting this month. A book about magic (the illusion kind; not the dragons kind), professional and personal jealousy, and some weird science that might turn out to be magic after all. And so on, blah blah blah. It sounds like the sort of book that might have everything. Two stage magicians with a bitter rivalry that goes through their entire careers – Alfred Borden and Rupert Angier. One thinks ...more
Andreea Daia
Review subtitle: Don't Judge a Book by its Movie!

Who saw the movie and, in spite of the great cast, found it too gory, dehumanized, obsessive, and (should I say it) psychotic? Raise your hands! (Count me in... ) I'm happy to say that the original novel was a different story. All the elements that bothered me in the movie adaptation are there, yet there is always a (relatively) sane motivation for even the worse decisions.

The synopsis is simple: using a couple of diaries, the descendants of two s
Dec 28, 2010 Sandi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, audiobooks
If you've seen the movie, don't bother with the book. I usually don't mind spoilers because the journey is why I read (or watch a movie). In this case, the spoiled reveal spoiled the book. Of course, it could be that the book was rotten to begin with and couldn't get any more spoiled. It did have some interesting techniques that knowing the secrets helped me notice. But, it was soooooo sloooooooow and booooring that even clever technique didn't help.

I don't think the audio version was helped at
Sep 08, 2016 São rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dois mágicos, no final do século XIX / início do século XX, criam um mundo de ilusão e de magia, cujo epicentro se localiza num truque que ambos desenvolvem, de formas diferentes, mas que lhes suscita a rivalidade angustiante entre ambos, uma disputa trágica que terminará por afectar as gerações futuras.
Nenhum mágico revela os segredos de outro mágico. Este código de conduta no mundo do ilusionismo, é a fronteira fragilizada que separa Alfred Borden de Rupert Angier .
Escrito de uma forma extrem
Oct 31, 2007 Audra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys mysteries with a touch of magic, science fiction, and bit of soft horror too.
A suspenseful and gripping story, Christopher Priest demonstrates his storytelling skill in this compelling tale of two turn-of-the-century competing British stage magicians and their feud that trickles down through their descendants. A present day young man unexepctedly finds out that he is a descendant of one of the magicians, and the reader follows his journey of reading their old diaries, learning of their lives, secrets, the feud, and how it so directly affects him (the present day young ...more
Jul 13, 2007 Russ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone looking for something interesting
You know the kind of book that starts out very wordy and slow, and then *boom* you get a scene that makes you want to read the rest of it right now, just to find out what happens? This is that kind of book.

The setting is in present day, with descendants of two famous magicians trying to figure out what happened to their great-grandfathers. They do this by reading the journals/books of their forefathers. What they find out will really amaze you.

This book will keep you guessing, and once the guess
Aug 06, 2012 Kathy rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting book. I liked the way it told the story from the different perspectives. First we get Bordon's side then later we get Angiers. It's not exactly a retelling, but it fills out the story with even more and different information. Then we move into the future with the grandaughter of Angiers and grandson of Bordon. Very interesting and well done. I do feel they leave some questions hanging, though, that I wish they had answered.
Joe Valdez
May 19, 2014 Joe Valdez rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Illusionists, puzzlers, hucksters
Shelves: sci-fi-general
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Delmy =^.^=
Jul 18, 2015 Delmy =^.^= rated it really liked it
Umm, hmm, I am not sure how I feel about this book. It was a great story, it had its shortcomings and there's things I believe should have been changed but overall I really liked it. The ending left me feeling odd,I cannot describe what I feel disappointment or anxiety or sad??? I don't know. Not the happiest of ending but definitely has a creepy vibe. yeah.

The story begins with a journalist being sent to cover a story, a story that is made up and whose only purpose was to get him to a house ful
I seem to have read a few books about magicians and circuses lately, but this one stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Turn of the century drama about the rivalry between two stage magicians. One of them has one amazing trick called 'The New Transported Man' where he apparently transports himself between two cabinets in a fraction of a second. The other magician wants to know how this trick is done and so begins a bitter rivalry. He eventually creates a similar trick and calls it 'In a Flash
Aug 11, 2015 Bettie☯ marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Description: Two 19th century stage illusionists, the aristocratic Rupert Angier and the working-class Alfred Borden, engage in a bitter and deadly feud; the effects are still being felt by their respective families a hundred years later.

Working in the smoke-and-mirrors world of Victorian music halls, both men move stealthily in the background of each other’s shadowy life, driven to the extremes by a deadly combination of obsessive secrecy and insatiable curiosity.

At the heart of the row is an a
Feb 09, 2016 SR rated it did not like it
page 290: "It is difficult to deal with massy, inorganic compounds. Living tissue is not of the same order of problem."

page 291: " would be a simple matter with life organisms. The structure is so much simpler than that of the elements."


I threw the book (at a couch, and when it bounced and landed open I rescued it immediately). What the hell. And at the same time blithely saying that "energy and matter are but two manifestations of the same force" in 1900 (mass-energy equivalence wa
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So Many Questions (Spoilers) 1 4 Oct 14, 2016 06:02AM  
Bookworm Bitches : July 2015: The Prestige 16 70 Oct 29, 2015 12:32PM  
Ending of The Prestige - Any theories or thoughts? 6 104 Oct 22, 2015 04:45AM  
ending 14 182 Oct 22, 2015 04:11AM  
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Christopher Priest was born in Cheshire, England. He began writing soon after leaving school and has been a full-time freelance writer since 1968.

He has published eleven novels, four short story collections and a number of other books, including critical works, biographies, novelizations and children’s non-fiction.

He has written drama for radio (BBC Radio 4) and television (Thames TV and HTV). In
More about Christopher Priest...

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“Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called "The Pledge". The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course... it probably isn't. The second act is called "The Turn". The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call "The Prestige".” 170 likes
“The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret... but you wont find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled.” 32 likes
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